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Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

April 11, 2019 |

Given their sheer size and weight, large trucks like tractor-trailers and other commercial motor vehicles have the potential to cause serious damage to Wisconsin drivers. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles, coupled with the normal risks of driving, can lead to devastating consequences. The Department of Transportation prescribes strict regulations for the drivers of these vehicles to keep all motor vehicles safe on the road.

What Is the FMCSA?

All commercial motor vehicles are subject to the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is responsible for the following four areas of safety oversight to protect truck drivers and other motorists on American roads.

  • The development and enforcement of data-driven regulations that support safety and efficiency for commercial motor vehicles
  • Harnessing safety information systems to enforce safety regulations for high-risk commercial motor vehicles
  • Educating drivers, carriers, and the public about commercial motor vehicle safety
  • Partnering with stakeholders to help reduce the number of bus and truck-related crashes across the United States

Hours-of-Service Safety Regulations

One of the most important safety regulations that truck drivers have to follow are the hours-of-service safety regulations. Driver fatigue and drowsiness is dangerous for all motor vehicles, but if a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel, the consequences can be devastating. Truck drivers are more at risk of falling asleep at the wheel because of the long, grueling hours they have to perform. As a result, the FMCSA requires drivers to adhere to the hours-of-service regulations to reduce the risk of accidents resulting from fatigued driving.

Beginning in July 2013, all truck drivers can only operate their vehicles for a maximum of 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. If a truck driver reaches 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 days, he or she must rest for 34 consecutive hours before resuming the job. In addition, truck drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shifts. Truck drivers can only drive for 11 hours per day and work for a maximum of 14 hours per day.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses

All truck drivers must carry a valid Commercial Driver’s License to lawfully operate their vehicles. The driver must pass both skills and knowledge testing on operating a commercial vehicle. In addition, the driver must pass a physical exam to ensure that he or she is in good physical health to operate his or her truck.

If a driver has a certain physical condition or takes a certain medication, he or she may not be eligible to drive a commercial motor vehicle. These regulations are in place to reduce the chances of a medical emergency happening at the wheel and to ensure that the driver’s alertness and judgment remain intact throughout the duration of his or her drive.

FMCSA Distracted Driving Regulations

Distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous practice that causes thousands of accidents and deaths across the country each year. Distracted driving can encompass many types of actions, such as operating a GPS or talking on the phone. Under the FMCSA, commercial motor vehicle drivers cannot text while they drive.  They also cannot read or compose an email, search for something online, or hold their phone while driving.

Drivers can still operate a cell phone under certain conditions. The driver cannot take off his or her seat belt to operate or reach for the cell phone. He or she must use a Bluetooth earpiece or the speakerphone function to operate the phone. Most importantly, the driver must use a voice-activated or one-button touch to answer, initiate, or end a phone call.

If a truck driver does not comply with the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, he or she can cause serious accidents on Wisconsin roads. If you suffered injuries in an accident with a truck driver who did not comply with federal regulations, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury claim. Contact the experienced trucking accident lawyers at Cannon & Dunphy to begin your claim as soon as possible.

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